Following on from EFAC’s video series at the Anglican Conference in Melbourne 2018, we now meet Anglicans from around the world. When you think of an Evangelical Anglican in USA, you might think of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). However, as well having Evangelicals scattered through The Episcopal Church (TEC), there are also several other breakaway groups. First to be interviewed is Ryan Flanigan, who is part of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) which operates as a mission society, not a denomination. Following his interview is Amanda from The Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), which split in 1873. Her church was led into Anglicanism when its pastor began exploring Church History.

 

NAME //
Ryan Flanigan, Dallas, Texas
CHURCH //
All Saints Dallas
BELONGING TO //
Anglican Mission in the Americas (AmiA)

YOU’VE HAD A RANGE OF EXPERIENCES IN CHARISMATIC, EVANGELICAL AND SACRAMENTAL SETTINGS. WITH THAT BACKGROUND, IT IS AMAZING YOU WERE ABLE TO STUDY UNDER ROBERT E WEBBER. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT HIM AND WHAT YOU LEARNED FROM HIM?

I had the privilege of studying with Robert Webber in 2005-2006 before he passed away in 2007. I was enrolled in other classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School(TEDS), but a friend of mine, the Chaplain of Trinity, and probably the only other person at TEDS who had previously attended Christ For the Nations Institute (CFNI), pulled me aside and told me to drop all my classes and to go study with Bob Webber for a year. Somehow he knew what I needed, and that Bob Webber would be taking a sabbatical the following year, and that I would miss my opportunity to study with him if I didn’t do it now. So, trusting my friend, I did as he said, and I have never looked back. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. What did I learn from Bob? In a nutshell, Bob gave me the vision for bringing the best of all Christian traditions together into one cohesive worship life. He was the first person to tell me that I didn’t have to choose between being charismatic, evangelical, or catholic. At first he called it “Convergence Christianity,” but later it came to be known as Ancient-Future worship: the way forward for the church in the West is to rediscover the ancient practices of worship that we find in the historic liturgy, which have been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years. Bob himself was an Episcopalian, in part because Anglicanism had enough space theologically and in form and expression for him to be a charismatic, evangelical catholic. He passed this vision on to me. That year and for the years to follow I oozed Bob’s vision from my pores. I immediately put his vision into practice at the Vineyard church where I was leading worship, and have continued evangelizing to all my friends in the charismatic and evangelical worlds for the recovery of the ancient practices of worship. One thing I will never forget about Bob is how available he made himself to his students. He offered to take us to Starbucks after every class, just to shoot the breeze or to ask him crazier questions. He was full of so much joy and was such a non-anxious presence.

I LOVE THAT ALL THIS HASN’T BEEN JUST THEORETICAL FOR YOU, YOU’VE FOUND WAYS OF LIVING THAT OUT. TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORK AS MUSIC DIRECTOR OF ALL SAINTS CHURCH DALLAS AND FOUNDER OF LITURGICAL FOLK?

After a very intense three-year season of vocational wilderness in 2011-2013 (the non-denominational church I was serving got tired of my vision for ancient-future worship, and my identity was wrapped up in my work, and so I suffered from some extreme discontentment and took the church’s rejection of my vision very personally), and after a friend pastored me back to health in 2014 and helped me discern the Lord’s calling into a tradition to which my worship convictions aligned, in 2015 I joined the staff of All Saints Dallas, a three-stream Anglican church in the heart of Dallas and part of the Anglican Mission in America, a mission society for church planting and new apostolic works. By 2015 I had been leading worship in churches for 17 years. I had come to know my strengths andweaknesses and was able to articulate them to All Saints during the interview process. Together we crafted a job description that would enable me to thrive in my strengths. Basically, I spend half of my time planning and performing music for church services, and the other half of my time on music projects and artist development outside of our church. It is no exaggeration to say that I moved from a culture, 2011-2013, in which I spent 90% of my time trying to convince people we needed to be worshiping differently, to a culture here in Dallas where I spend 90% of my time freely working in my calling. I am now four and a half years in, and it’s still dreamy. As far as Sunday worship and other special services, I love how the songs serve the liturgy. I love how the liturgy speaks for itself and doesn’t demand that I add words between songs to create a seamless worship set. I love the spiritual formation my family is receiving through immersion in a liturgical community that is serious about the transformational power of the historic practices. And I love that this vision has been around for hundreds of years, and that I don’t have to convince anyone that we need to be doing it this way. The joy I have found leading music in the church has freed me to spend the rest of my time writing songs, developing songwriters, and pouring into the lives of other artists outside our church. I’ll talk about two special organizations in particular: Art House Dallas and Liturgical Folk.

Art House Dallas exists to cultivate creativity for the common good. The founding director is a parishioner at All Saints, so when I was hired I was expected to jump right in with their community of songwriters, and I have loved every minute of it. I have also helped them develop a spiritual formation program in which we help local artists connect their faith with their art.

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Liturgical Folk is a new apostolic work of the AMiA, which I started when a retired priest and I began writing new hymns together. We are seeking to reimagine the hymnal for a new generation of worshippers. We attempt to make beautiful and believable sacred folk music for the Church and the world. We believe that the Church can once again become a credible artistic presence in the world. Our music is multi-generational, multi-racial, and ecumenical. Our goal from the beginning in 2016 was to release six volumes of new liturgical music in three years; to throw a critical mass of this (new?) kind of music at the wall of the church and to see if it sticks. We have identified a problem in the church’s imagination of the reduction of appropriate music to either “traditional” (choir, organ, hymns) or the “contemporary” (stage lights, fog, arena rock). We believe there is a third way that is grounded in the sounds already resident in a place, and whose words are historically-rooted and socially-informed. Half of our music is service music (liturgical settings, simple choruses, etc.) and the otherhalf is new hymnody, written by Father Nelson Koscheski and tuned by myself and other skilled melodists. We have already released four volumes of music (Table Settings, Crumbs, and Lent), and we have just recorded and are about release Advent and Psalm Settings. We have also beentouring the projects for a couple years, spreading the word and casting a vision for the appropriateness of liturgical folk music in the church. We have seen a decent amount of success with hundreds of thousands of streams and stories of hundreds of churches around the world using our songs.

HOW WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE A MINISTRY TEAM TO MOVE THEIR CHURCH BEYOND THE ‘WORSHIP WARS’?

My friend Brian Hehn points out the helpful fact that“traditional” and “contemporary” are misnomers; they don’t describe anything about the music itself, except that it “happened a long time ago” or that it is “happening now.” Both sides of the war have a reduced imagination for what music can be in the church. On the one hand you havechurches that think organs, choirs, hymns, and the like are theonly appropriate musical elements for worship. And on the other extreme you have arena rock, stage lights, and celebrities that project the ideal for what church music should be. In my estimation when a church reduces its musical imagination to one of these two sides it can too easily become a monolithic institution represented mainly by a narrow segment of the kingdom, especially in age and race. Not to mention how difficult and expensive it can be for the average church to pull off really good “traditional” or “contemporary” music. I am finding that a folk approach to liturgical music in the Western church is able to bridge the divides(or blow up the walls of traditional and contemporary, allowing parishioners to experience the breadth of Christ’s kingdom, especially its intergenerational and multi-ethnic nature. I’m talking about the music that bubbles up from the ground of a place. I would encourage ministry teams to put their ear to the ground and to listen for that sound. Tap into the music that effortlessly engages the soul. God put it there for us to find. And the best musicians are able to capture it and reflect it back to the people. The metric I use is whether the children and the old folks are engaged. They are the ones living the most down-to-earth lives in our congregations, so they will often be the first to access and engage with the music in the bones of a place.


Text Box:

NAME //
Amanda McGill, Dayton, Ohio
CHURCH //
Christ the King Anglican Church
BELONGING TO//
Reformed Episcopal Church

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY?

I’m married to Jon and have two daughters who are 4 and 2. My husband and I grew up Baptist, were both Bible majors at a Baptist college and went to a Southern Baptist seminary — where we became Anglican. From early on in college, we were consumed with questions about the Church and troubled by the reality, “We want to give our lives to the Church, why do we hate Sunday morning so much?” While in seminary, we were able to connect with Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio. We were his summer interns in 2012, and going to his Anglican church really sealed the deal that we were Anglicans. We moved back to the Dayton, Ohio area (where I’m from) where we are members of Christ the King Anglican Church. I’m the music director and my husband, now a web developer with an M.Div is senior warden.

 

WHAT MADE YOU START THE BLOG THE HOMELY HOURS? WHAT DOES THE TITLE MEAN?

My friend Bley and I followed a lot of wonderful Catholic liturgical living blogs, but couldn’t find similar resources in the Anglican tradition. Bley is an artist and had already made a lot of liturgical living printables (such as her Jesus Tree Advent printables so starting a blog together seemed to make sense, mostly as a service for our own parish. We decided to call it “The Homely Hours” because we were talking about the fixed prayer system of the “Divine Hours,” and the word “homely” seemed very fitting as a description of our “hours” — cozy, but also fairly dishevelled

>YOUR CHURCH BECAME ANGLICAN THROUGH EXPLORING CHURCH HISTORY, TELL US ABOUT THAT SHIFT?

The church started as a non-denominational charismatic college ministry. Six years after officially becoming a church, Fr. Wayne unexpectedly became the pastor. He found himself overwhelmed, but felt led to read church history for wisdom. Over many years, he led the church toward Anglicanism. It was quite a dramatic shift — we actually use the 1928 Prayer Book, so you can imagine. But Fr. Wayne has always had the long vision and promised that after 10 years or so, it would get into everyone’s bones. That was in the 90s. My husband and I became part of the church around 6 years ago. It’s beautiful to see how much more at home everyone is in the liturgy even since we became members.

SO, WHAT ARE YOUR SUNDAY SERVICES LIKE?

Our church is quite traditional, using the 1928 Prayer Book (i.e. we all have to learn what “succor” and “vouchsafe” mean) and the new Reformed Episcopal Hymnal (which is inspired by the 1940 Hymnal). However, we probably look different than what someone would imagine when they hear that. We’re located in a depressed area in our city. Homeless people come in and out. We have a ministry to a group home, and our members from there faithfully attend and add so much to our service — sometimes, at the wrong times, but that’s part of it. We also have a ridiculous amount of young children for a small church and we’re committed to having them mostly in the service with us, though sometimes that makes things crazy. So, our liturgyprovides a welcome structure when people are coming in and out and all the littles are disgruntled. With all this, we maintain a very real sense of Christ’s presence among us, which is highlighted by the presence of the “least of these” in our pews.

HOW HAVE YOU INCORPORATED “ANGLICAN­NESS” INTO YOUR FAMILY LIFE?

It’s always changing. In terms of daily worship, we do the shorter form of morning prayer every day, after we sing our hymn of the month; then we try to do evening prayer at night and sing the Nunc Dimittis. This year, it was our first time really doing something for Michaelmas — I bought a dragon pinata from Amazon. We “slayed” the dragon, and processed around the house with his head, singing A Mighty Fortress is our God. My kids loved it, though my 2 year old keeps coming downstairs in the morning and reassuring herself that there is no dragon. Generally, I’m just trying to do what we have on the site, buy the children’s books, etc.

YOUR CHURCH IS A PART OF THE REFORMED EPISCOPAL CHURCH. HOW DID REC COME TO BE?

Early in the 1870’s a substantial number of clergy sought to reform aspects of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Their efforts met with firm resistance resulting in a separation in 1873. One significant issue was a commitment to open communion with other Christian denominations. In our liturgy, we have this introduction to Holy Communion: “Our fellow Christians of other branches of Christ’s Church, and all who love our Divine Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in sincerity, are affectionately invited to the Lord’s Table.” I really appreciate this emphasis. One thing I love about Anglicanism is that I can still embrace all the very good things I received from growing up Baptist, and that we believe in sharing the Table with Christians from other traditions.

THIS INTEREST YOU HAVE IN LITURGY AND THE SAINTS, IS IT UNIQUELY “YOU” OR SOMETHING YOUR CHURCH AND DENOMINATION ARE INTERESTED IN ALSO?

Our church community definitely has a strong interest in liturgy and the saints. I’m so thankful. In the past 5 years, two of my friends that have also been part of the Homely Hours, established our Godly Play program for young children. It’s such a beautiful program– this past week, the kids learned about baptism by going through the actual service, standing in the places of the parents and godparents. We try to plan our church gatherings around feast days, etc. We have big house blessings when anyone moves. Starting the Homely Hours was much less about our individual families, but integrating church and home — bringing what is already happening at Christ the King into our personal and family devotions

Rachael Lopez is a writer exploring both ancient and future practices of discipleship and worship. Full versions of these interviews may be found at www.alivetradition.com